|Tournament Venue during matches|
The last international of 2014 came in December, late December the 17th to 21st to be exact down in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This would be the last international of the year and after having points fall off from tournaments that I did good in back in 2013 I was hurting for points to keep my world ranking up and in the top 300’s. Looking at the calendar it was either Puerto Rico or a tournament in Istanbul, Turkey. Both were the same level and the one in Puerto Rico made more sense as I would probably have a better chance to advance past 1st round. So I was entered and the best thing was that I would not be traveling alone this time as another Trinidad player (Kamasha Robertson) was going and she was also one of my mixed partners. This made the tournament all the more worth it, international series level (good chance to advance), right before Christmas (get out of the cold), playing more than 1 event, and well come on it’s a tropical island getaway who wouldn't want to go that would make for a nice vacation after the tournament.
So the day came to leave and of course I would be flying with air Canada rouge to LA again and with my luck we were delayed once again for a little so now not only would my short connection time become even shorter I was worried that I wouldn't even make my flight from LA to New York and then New York to Puerto Rico (that connection was short too). The second that we arrived at the gate in LA my other flight had just started to board, so I could imagine my baggage wouldn't even come close to making it. Of course my flight would also happen to be on the other side of the airport, that’s right not just in another terminal but the terminals are so far apart that I had to run outside through parking lots, across the street and then go through security again. Needless to say I just made my flight with seconds to spare and my gut was telling me my baggage wouldn't make it. In New York we actually arrived 20 minutes earlier than was scheduled so I had time to go into the lounge and grab breakfast which was nice and then caught the final flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. To my amazement as I stood at the baggage carousel my giant Yonex trolley bag came out and onto the belt, I was amazed but of course there was nobody there to pick me up. A scene that was very familiar at a good chunk of the tournaments I have attended, catching a cab I made my way to the hotel.
Arriving at the hotel I already knew that it was the same one I stayed in during my very first international back in 2008 which happened to be the very same tournament, the Puerto Rico International. Nothing had changed and I think I was very close to getting the same room that I stayed in back then. Having traveled all night and sleeping little on the flight I was both tired and hungry so after some food passing out was the next logical and inevitable course of action. Kamasha came in later that night and after a brief conversation it was back to bed for me to await the following days team managers meeting and commencement of the tournament the following day. Much to our hopes the tournament would be delayed a day due to access to the facility and the fact that the government essentially has the final say and they would not give over times until the Thursday. With this meant that we would not be able to practice the following day in the morning due to the tournament organizers not getting to set up until early afternoon but we would get practice times that night which was a good thing.
Night came and we went to the hall to practice, it wasn't a bad place different than the 1st tournament that I played in Puerto Rico back in 2008 this one was smaller. It was nice to be in a hotter climate playing badminton again as this meant my body warmed up very fast, dealing with the excessive sweat was another story though. Practice went well, finished got dinner and headed back to the room to rest for the following day when matches would start.
|Late night practice session|
That morning was the men’s singles first rounds as well as a few of the women’s singles rounds so both me and Kamasha would have to play. In the morning at 10am I was scheduled to play one of the Puerto Rican players and was one of the first matches up. The downfall was there are windows around the upper part of the venue and those had not been blocked out yet so we had to play the matches while they started to cover the windows with some paper to attempt to block the light. I won my match pretty handily and secured my spot in the 2nd round against the third seed from Brazil, Alex Tjong. Kamasha had a good fight in her match against a girl from the USA but unfortunately wasn’t able to pull out the victory. So that was half the day, matches would resume in the late afternoon as to give us time to rest and eat not to mention avoid playing a the hottest time of the day. Play resumed and this time I was up against the Brazilian, it was a tough match and I fought as hard as I could but in the end he pulled away with the win. That was the end of singles for me, I am happy with the second round result it meant a lot more world ranking points as well as a nice present for the last tournament of the year.
|During my 1st round match against Puerto Rico|
The following morning we played mixed doubles against the 2nd seeds from Dominican Republic who we had played 2 years earlier at CAREBACO and the results back then were interesting to say the least. This time we had a way better match, I needed to attack more though and that is ultimately why we lost the match because I didn't attack enough. Overall though I am happy with the tournament and the results, 2nd round at an international is always a great feeling and I have had quite a few first round losses this year past. That being said this was a great way to finish off the year, now that the matches were over I would get to have a little bit of a vacation. That meant that I would finally get to go to the beach and go into the ocean, the 1st time since 2013 and my trip to Tahiti.
I had just 2 days left until I left the country which meant the rest of Friday night, Saturday whole day and then Sunday as my flight was Monday morning very early. Friday night we didn't do much after the match just relax in the hotel then the fun came on Saturday. That was the day that we would go to the beach and oh boy was that an adventure trying to find a beach, we went to a public beach on the other side of this hidden area quite a ways away from the hotel. It was worth it though and the view was beautiful to watch down the Puerto Rican coast line and see the sunset. The sunset made it picture perfect as cliche as that sounds, there’s nothing more beautiful that being in the ocean as the sun is setting, the array of colors that glisten across the sky and water is an art of its own that can be appreciated. That was the highlight of the trip being able to get back into the ocean even if it was very quick.
|Gotta flex while on the beach, its the law|
We went out that night with some friends from USA, Czech Republic, and Scotland to have burgers and beer. That leaving the following and last day to check out a place called the mall of America which was the largest mall in Puerto Rico and of course decorated for Christmas. After a day of shopping it was time to head back to the hotel and pack for my flight the following morning.
All in all I am happy with how the tournament in Puerto Rico went and couldn't have asked for more, a win and a boost to my world ranking to help me get back up where I use to be. Flying home would involve 2 stopovers one in Houston and one in Denver but this time I had adequate time in-between flights and didn't have to run through terminals. A great end of the year tournament and almost a vacation in its own sense. I would be returning home to start off 2015 and see what the New Year would bring not to mention planning out tournaments. I was already looking to attend the China International Challenge the end of January so would have to start training for that.